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Nokia hopes push-to-talk phone moves fitness buffs

The mobile phone maker gears its first "walkie-talkie" phone to the fitness-conscious. It has a push-to-talk feature and camera and is due out by mid-2004.

Nokia, the Finnish mobile phone maker, on Wednesday said it will launch a push-to-talk handset for the Global System of Mobile Communications (GSM) standard by the middle of next year.

In addition to the main feature, PTT technology, Nokia's 5140 model features a digital compass, a built-in Video Graphics Array camera and functions such as multimedia messaging. Nokia is targeting the phone at fitness buffs.

The model has a timer and a stopwatch and features an application called Fitness Coach, which offers training modules by fitness professionals. The digital compass has a built-in flashlight and will display directions both graphically and numerically.

The PTT feature, which Motorola developed, turns cell phones into walkie-talkies by enabling a connection to other phones without dialing and within just a few seconds. Because these calls are shorter than normal cell phone calls, dialing costs are lower. American carriers such as AT&T Wireless, Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless are all planning competing PTT services.

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Nokia said its PTT phone will be a half-duplex, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system using existing GSM networks capable of data transmission through Global Packet Radio System (GPRS) and Enhanced Data GSM Environment technology.

The company plans to release more GSM phones with PTT, including smart phones for the Symbian operating system. PTT will be made a standard feature for all GPRS and wideband code-division multiple access phones to be released in 2005.

Separately, the company announced another handset, the 6010 model, to be available in the first quarter of 2004. The dual-band GSM phone will have large keys and an easy-to-read screen with a color display.

It will also include features such as a multimedia messaging service, downloadable applications and an Extensible Hypertext Markup Language Internet browser; the ability to synchronize the phone book, calendar and to-do list; and the ability to send e-mail and picture messages.

Nokia did not release pricing for either phone.